Creativity could be regarded as the pinnacle of our human abilities.

However, as you no doubt know, being creative is often hard work. Sometimes we have great ideas – other times they’re lame (at best!).

As a musician and writer, I’ve spent years looking for ways to increase my creativity.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Sleep on it.

Have you ever got stuck in a creative rut? I’m sure you have. We toss and turn ideas around in our heads, only for end goals to slip further and further away from us. If you’re failing to come up with original, creative ideas, it may be time to switch off and go to bed. Many times – as if by magic – you’ll find fresh inspiration and ideas pop into your head first thing in the morning. The trick though, is to make sure you get a good, deep and restful night’s sleep.

2) Be healthy.

I’ve come to realise, that without abundant personal energy, it’s impossible to be at your creative best. Your body needs energy to keep you alive. However, your mind also needs energy to keep it quick, lively and creative. You don’t need to live like a monk, but if you want to be super-creative, pay close attention to your health. Areas you can easily improve on include: diet, exercise and rest.

3) Ask questions.

When you’re suffering from ‘creative block’ – start to ask yourself questions. As an example, if you’re struggling to write a captivating ending for your novel, ask yourself things like this: Does the ending have to follow convention? Could an unexpected element come into play? Would an open ending leave a reader wanting more? When stuck for ideas – begin asking yourself questions.

4) Take a break.

If you’re like me, once you get started on a creative project you don’t want to stop. However, I’ve found that stopping regularly is actually a fantastic way to recharge your batteries, and to give your mind space to come up with new and improved ideas. Personally, I use a system called the Pomodoro Technique, which helps break my creative working times into 25 minutes ON, 5 minutes OFF. I don’t always stick exactly to the alerts, but I make sure that I have regular breaks. Try it for yourself. You may find that you can be more creative and efficient, while spending less overall time on a project.

5) Collaborate with others.

No man is an island, so the famous saying goes. And when it comes to creativity, this saying is even more applicable. While some people may work best on their own, many others find that collaborating with like-minded people can lead to unexpected ideas and creations. It’s all to do with the blending of minds. It’s no wonder that even gifted songwriters often choose to co-write with other composers. (A great example of this, is the songwriting partnership of Lennon-McCartney.) Working with others can lead to synergistic ideas that you would likely never create on your own. Embrace collaboration. It could be your key to enhanced creativity and success.

6) Work in favourable surroundings.

The environment you choose to work and create in, is very important. Strangely though, it’s also a factor that seems to be overlooked by many creative types. Places to avoid include: noisy, dull and distracting environments. Places to choose include: colourful, inspirational and peaceful environments. I love working at home, with the morning sun streaming into my room. However, I’m also partial to working on balconies with glorious sea views (who wouldn’t be!). Don’t settle for working in a windowless garage, instead, bring light and life into your creations. Let your environment be your friend and supporter.

7) Call upon a higher power.

I’ve seldom met a creative person who didn’t believe in a higher power. Whether they called this power the Divine, God, or the Universe, was irrelevant. They believed strongly in a power (or force) higher than themselves, and they also believed that they could receive inspiration from this power. I’m one of these people. Our ordinary, day-to-day conscious mind usually delivers ordinary results. When you have faith in a higher power, you can draw on ideas that have immense wisdom, strength and energy.

While some people certainly seem to be naturally blessed with creativity (think William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), using the strategies above will definitely help boost your creativity.

So, over to you now…

What other (legal!) techniques do you use to reach your creative peak?